Archive for Thursday, May 4, 2006

Students sample American culture

Field trip’ takes fourth-graders on U.S. tour in LIS gym

May 4, 2006

Lansing Intermediate School fourth-graders toured the United States on Wednesday and Thursday, April 26 and 27, visiting New Orleans, Hawaii, Washington D.C., Alaska, the Southwest, the Midwest, the West, the West Coast and the Northeast.

They didn't even have to pack a bag - it all took place in the LIS gym.

The students participated in an American Sampler program through Main Street U.S.A., an Olathe-based educational company.

Main Street U.S.A. is run by Don and Cheryl Everhart, who have more than 70 years teaching experience between them. American Sampler and other programs they offer are based on state standards in geography, social studies, language arts and math. The program teaches students in one day what would take a teacher two weeks to teach in a classroom, Don Everhart said.

"And the kids actually have fun learning. That's the neat thing," he said.

For the American Sampler, students went on a "field trip," visiting 10 stations set up in the gym. They spend about 25 minutes at each station, which represent the different regions of the United States.

Students cooked and crafted at each station to learn about the different regions. Mickey Jinks said he liked the first of the two stations on Hawaii, where he learned about traditions held there that are different from the rest of the U.S.

"We got to make these cool necklaces," he said. Students made necklaces or bracelets out of kukui nuts that the Everharts had ordered from Hawaii.

In addition to the leis, students also made construction-paper button blankets, similar to the ones created by Haida and Tlingit American Indians in Alaska, and lucky red envelopes like those used by Chinese Americans at the Chinese New Year. They also, with the help of parent volunteers, cooked corn tortillas, potato chips and beignets, which are French doughnuts served in New Orleans.

Most of the students liked the beignets. Shelby Bradford said it was her favorite station.

"We get to experience new cooking stuff, and it's really good," she said.

Don and Cheryl Everhart said they also like the cooking activities because students don't often get to do that in the classroom. The goal of their programs, they said, is to show students that learning about cultures, social studies and geography can be fun.

They seemed to have succeeded with at least one student on Thursday, who told Don Everhart as he passed between stations, "I thought this was going to be boring, but it's really fun."

Fourth-grade teacher Connie Evans brought the program to LIS. Last year, she received a grant from the company for a program about Lewis and Clark.

This year, she secured money from the Lansing Parent-Teacher Association for the American Sampler program.

Evans said her students loved the program, which they attended on Wednesday, and were talking about all day Thursday.

Evans said it was a "very worthwhile program" to teach students social studies and geography.

"I think when you put something with it like the beignets, they have a connection with it," she said.

The program costs about $5 per student, Evans said, and all seven fourth-grade classes participated. She said she hoped to find a sponsor or grant so the students can participate again next year.

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